The internationally acclaimed Nigerian curator Okwui Enwezor has called for a new vocabulary for discussing design in Africa. In his opinion, concepts like recycling, restoration and informality require new interpretation so that we can productively apply them to present-day Africa. The Faculty of Design at the University of Applied Sciences in Pforzheim (DESIGN PF) has taken this appeal as the starting point for a project with WoeLab in Lomé which aims to examine new technologies, democratic production structures and the role of maker cultures and fab labs in the design scenes of Togo and Germany.
Maker cultures on the African continent have recast artists and designers as pioneers of a new form of recycling politics. Design in Africa takes a new approach to materials, is interdisciplinary, collaborative, decentralised and process-oriented. Fab labs play an important role in the democratisation of this development. 3D printing technology plays a crucial role in this and is especially significant for so-called “transformation design” which relies on reducing, reusing, recycling and upcycling. The WoeLab in Lomé, founded by Koffi Sénamé Agbodjinou, is a leader in this field. In 2014, it developed the 3D printer “W.AFATE” from recycled electronic waste – the first ever to be made in Africa which attracted international attention and garnered numerous prizes.
Under the artistic direction of Koffi Sénamé Agbodjinou, the design summit “LowHighTech. E-waste for 3DprintAfrica!” will invite African artists from WoeLab and leading figures of the German design scene to jointly develop new design approaches with the use of digital media. The project includes a bilateral workshop for African and German artists/designers titled “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Upcycle” at the University of Applied Sciences in Pforzheim, the international conference “LowHighTech – Democracy through Technology” and a film by the video artists Marcel Odenbach on electronic waste disposal sites in West Africa.
The working process and conference papers will be documented via a blog, and the results of the entire project will be presented in an exhibition by the Faculty of Design and at the re:publica 2018 in Berlin.
Artistic director: Koffi Sénamé Agbodjinou (TG)
Artists: Koffi Sénamé Agbodjinou (TG), Marcel Odenbach (DE), members of WoeLab (TG)
Additional dates and venues
27.6.2016 - 30.6.2016 Kick-off in Pforzheim
08.04.2017 - 14.04.2017 Woelab Lomé, Workshop